Bras and bereavement: learning to embrace the new normal

The first time I stepped into lingerie I bought before my mastectomy, I cried at the sight of the obvious loose fitting cups. My breasts implants looked and felt way too small for my body — and often days still do.

But with smaller breasts and the lack of nips, comes the need for less restriction. So, I stopped wearing bras shortly after my implant surgery.

While planning a bra-fitting meetup for my Young Survival Coalition support group, I was reminded of the pile of useless underthings stuffed in my bottom drawer.

“You’d have some extra space if you cleared out those bras,” said my husband.

My eyes widened.

Why haven’t I thrown them away already?

I’ve thought about it.

They’re at least four sizes too big.

I really could use the extra drawer space.

It just felt like such a big thing to do, getting rid of one of the biggest things that connected me to my original body.

Yes, as a woman, I am more than my breasts, but nothing prepares you for having a part of your body amputated and replaced with inanimate objects, especially when the “new things” are so much different from “the originals.”

Jan. 24, 2019, will make two years since I lost my breasts to cancer and yet, I still find myself passively grieving by holding onto things that no longer have purpose.

I had no intention of buying bras during my meetup at Soma Intimates, but I was curious so, I tried some on.

I tried on a pretty, lace bralette with a plunging neckline. My scars are not far from under my arms.I haven’t gone back to plastic surgeon for revisions. And while I looked lovely, almost like my original self, I felt uncomfortable.

With the help of a certified fitter from In The Pink, I found two bras that made me look and feel the most “normal” I’ve felt in a long time. She showed me how to balance my breasts by removing the padding from one cup and adding it to the side with my radiated, slightly smaller breast. She helped me select bras with high backs to slims the areas around my scars.

I used to think nipple tattoos and prosthetic nipples were pointless until I tried on a pair from Pink Perfect and the look of myself in the mirror made my eyes light up. Maybe I’m starting to feel the same way about bras.

After my meetup, I knelt down to clean out my bottom drawer. I loaded up all my old bras and dumped them on the floor before neatly placing my two new bras in their place.

I think donating the old bras will help me let go of memories attached to things that no longer serve me. And buying new bras — just in case I ever want to wear one that fits perfectly — allows me to make room for new things and new memories. It’s a small step, and I’d like to think it’s a step in the right direction.